Thursday, April 03, 2008

Global Warming revisited

Roger Harrabin, the BBC Environment Analyst reports.

Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007 due to the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said. The World Meteorological Organisation's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory. But experts have also forecast a record high temperature within five years.

In the meantime the AP reports that cosmic rays play no role in global warming. "Physicist Terry Sloan of Lancaster University and Arnold Wolfendale of Durham University said their research finds no evidence of a link between the ionizing cosmic rays and the production of low cloud cover."

"This is of vast significance because if the skeptics are right, it would mean we're wasting our time trying to cut greenhouse gases," the researchers said in a statement. "But we couldn't find the link they were proposing which means we are right to be cutting carbon emissions."

The cosmic ray theory was developed by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark at the Danish National Space Centre and featured in a controversial British documentary, "The Great Global Warming Swindle." Svensmark suggested that when the solar wind is strong, the planet warms up because fewer clouds are produced and more of the sun's heat reaches the surface.

Svensmark's claims that solar-driven cloud formations affect earth temperatures more than carbon emissions disturbed the global warming orthodoxy. However, it is unclear whether the Durham University study disproves Svensmark's claim at all.

Later in 2007, Svensmark and Friis-Christensen brought out a Reply to Lockwood and Fröhlich which concludes that surface air temperature records used by Lockwood and Fröhlich apparently are a poor guide to Sun-driven physical processes, but tropospheric air temperature records do show an impressive negative correlation between cosmic-ray flux and air temperatures up to 2006 if a warming trend, oceanic oscillations and volcanism are removed from the temperature data. They also point out that Lockwood and Fröhlich present their data by using running means of around 10 years, which creates the illusion of a continued temperature rise, whereas all unsmoothed data point to a flattening of the temperature, coincident with the present maxing out of the magnetic activity of the Sun, and which the continued rapid increase in CO2 concentrations seemingly has been unable to overrule. This reply has so far not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

This blog is not the place to discuss scientific controversies. But it may be pertinent to point out that a combination of recent lower temperatures and questions posed by serious scientists have returned the climate change debate to the realm of science once more. And this can only be good. The study of climate is above all a scientific question, not a political one.




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48 Comments:

Blogger patrick neid said...

Yes its always in another five years....

My concern is we are not addressing the only thing we are certain about--the sun will burn out in about 5 billion years. You know its never to early to start worrying.

All I can say is there had better be global warming otherwise we are going to have to deal with hundreds of millions of people who will be looking for reparations/therapy for having been duped into wasting their lives worrying about bogus Malthusian science.

Well, I suppose we could blame it on Dick Cheney and be done with it!

4/03/2008 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger J. Peden said...

The study of climate is above all a scientific question, not a political one.

Which means that the ipcc-related "science" and its "conclusions" - which, if you look at the actual ipcc process involved, are really no more than unproven direct restatements of AGW hypotheses - should be abandoned as a gigantic waste of money, at best.

4/03/2008 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"returned the climate change debate to the realm of science once more."

The problem has never been with the science, it has been with the policy prescriptions. If the sea levels are about to rise should we:

1). Try to reverse Global Warming by forsaking the use of fossil fuels, or

2). Move to higher ground.

If a warmer world will encourage the spread of tropical diseases, should we:

1.) abandon the use of fossil fuel, or

2.) develop vaccines?

Similar policy questions can be generated for every one of the parade of Global Warming horribles.

The guy who has really been neglected is Bjorn Lomborg, who has been consistently asking these questions.

The political problem is that the Al Gores don't want to solve little problems, they want to use GW as a lever to gain power.

4/03/2008 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Brock said...

Some good science in this report:
http://www.warwickhughes.com/agri/Solar_Arch_NY_Mar2_08.pdf

Interestingly it seems that atmospheric CO-2 has been as much as 13x as high as it is today (5,000 ppm vs. today's 380 ppm) at points in Earth's past. Also, while the Northern Hemisphere has warmed slightly over the last 30 years, the Southern Hemisphere has warmed not at all.

4/03/2008 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Given that I think Al Gore will emerge as the Democratic Presidential candidate, I would like to put off any further analysis of Global Colding until after the Democratic convention. I don't want Academy Award / Nobel Prize-winning Gore to look any sillier than absolutely necessary, compared to Mrs. Bill Clinton and B. Hussein Obama.

4/03/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

If a warmer world will encourage the spread of tropical diseases, should we:

1.) abandon the use of fossil fuel, or

2.) develop vaccines?


This is the fallacy of the excluded middle. Is there any reason why we can't do a little of both? There are many reasons to diversify our energy base and transition away from fossil fuels. That doesn't mean we have to bankrupt ourselves doing it, and it doesn't mean that we have to do it fanatically. There are also other potential ways to address AGW.

The five year prediction is appropriate granularity. You can't count on what will happen in any single year. I hadn't heard that particular prediction before, but it strikes me as pretty risky. Weather and climate are random walks about an average. The average can change under some circumstances. If, for instance, there are fewer sunspots, then the expected temperatures will probably drop. A Pinatubo type volcanic explosion will also bring it down. Loss of an ice shelf might make it go up.

If, however, a substantial number of climate modelers are willing to sign on to such a prediction, then it provides an ideal scientific test for the theoretical models that they have been touting. You should collect signatures.

4/03/2008 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

The global surface data are corrupt - both the surface temp stations (urban heat island, siting, and sensor bias) and the tree ring studies.

Long sunspot cycles bring much colder weather. Cycle 23 is already a historically long cycle and because of this its going to only get colder.

2007 was unsually cold in the S Hemipshere and 2008 may be even worse. And the cold in Asia speaks for itself.

No one will believe the contradiction until their nose is put on it. And even then who knows - many people still believe that Communism is noble and moral.

4/03/2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

There is a difference between getting off fossil fuels as a means to put the petrotyrants out of business and getting off fossil fuels as a means to feed apocalyptic hysteria. Instead of appealing to New Age piety with the claim that an ecological apocalypse is coming because our use of fossil fuels has offended the gods of nature, we ought to use energy policy as a weapon to both destroy our enemies and make ourselves independent of nonrenewable energy.

4/03/2008 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger probus said...

"... I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."-- Ted Turner chanelling HL-- Regards, probus-- yum, yum

4/04/2008 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

I read a Bjorn Lomborg article a while back where he said something to the effect that if you throw 100 trillion dollars worth of human effort and capital into the battle, the level of greenhouse gases you would've reached in 2200, you will not reach until 2205. So Manhattan will flood five years later than currently planned.

Whether Global Warming is a hoax is irrelevant. The problem is that the solutions are a total hoax. They are aimed at acquiring power for vast bureaucracies and a tenured academic priesthood. Taken as a whole, these folks are not interested in solving "the problem" they claim will end the world. They are interested in building (and controlling) a hyper-regulatory state. If you think global warming is a problem and want to solve it, do not put Leftist "environmentalist" quacks (a pack of fools led by sociopaths) in charge. They will create a toxic wasteland, call it paradise, and arrest anyone who complains.

If global warming doesn't get them the power they want, they will think of another cause. The solution will be the same.

4/04/2008 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

In the interest of brevity I used the phrase "fools led by sociopaths" in my last post. Name calling is not a good way to further ones arguments. So allow me to adjust my phraseology. By fools I mean the "politically naive." I should say the last leader standing will be a sociopath (i.e. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Chavez) and his sycophants. The other leaders will be the star attractions at the show trials.

The best predictor of future behavior is the past. I always thought that unfortunate.

4/04/2008 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The Global Warming affair may be an informative way to look at the religious wars that devasted parts of Europe. The articles of faith were never the issue but only the instrument used to identify allies and enemies.

If GW were purely a scientific issue then liberals and conservatives would split about evenly on it. That only liberals are seeking massive political and social reordering to combat GW, by force if necessary, indicates that something else is going on.

Hopefully, as more people come to realize that Global Warming alarmism is a hoax, the Grand Narrative of liberalism itself will be harmed enough to shift the zeitgeist back into a more rationale mode.

4/04/2008 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

We have been observing the Sun scientifically for well over 100 years and on a somewhat more casual basis for centuries before that. We can now note the currents that bring the heat from deep within the Sun and use those observations to predict what the next sunspot cycle will be like – and hence what solar output will be.

And the latest observations of the solar currents indicate that they are at the LOWEST LEVEL EVER RECORDED. By around 2020 there will be some noticeable cooling. Some authorities believe that is just the start of an even greater period of reduced solar output (e.g, the very interesting analysis that Brock kindly linked to). And strangely enough, I found this in news item on the Sun with no mention of its impact on Global Warming. I had to talk to an astronomer I worked with to figure that part out.

I am convinced that this latest urgent multimillion dollar push by Al Gore and his minions is a desperate attempt to get the vast bureaucracy described by hdgreene established early enough so that it can swing into handling the Global Cooling Crisis when that becomes apparent.

4/04/2008 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

W,

The BBC? This BBC?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23qDl1aH9l4

4/04/2008 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

"Experts have forecast (extreme) warming over the next five years" (through c. 2013): No-one is expert on the future. Over 10 - 12 million years, regular 100,000-year ice ages have recurred with interglacials averaging 11,500 years.

This is a plate-tectonic phenomenon, driven by landmass configurations whereby North and South American continents wall off eastern from western hemispheres. Given another few million years, the Andean ridge will re-subside, and glaciations will cease for an extended geological era.

Meantime, if not for the Younger Dryas --a post-glacial rebound due to a meteor strike rather than any climate change-- our current Holocene Period would have ended with the Fall of Rome some 1,500 years ago. From 1890, interim cycles have increased in frequency (50-40-30 years, now 20 from 2010 - 2029) with corresponding extremes of amplitude.

Solar radiation, atmospheric CO2 et al. are marginal climatic factors. Since 1830 - 1850, deep-ocean magmatic episodes warm waters that evaporate in a cooling process akin to air-conditioning. In 2113, Planet Earth will intersect an annular ring of intra-solar dust as happens every 800 years-- last time in AD 1313, when worldwide harvests failed for a decade and every major global culture perished.

Glacier do not gradually move south. High evaporation rates drive floods in summer, blizzard snows in winter: Ninety feet of drifts in some ten days. Our children and grandchildren face catastrophic damage overnight, with nothing left to do but man vertical Erie Canals and teleport to vast off-planet terminals.

My generation will have died off just in time.

4/04/2008 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger Sam Spade said...

W's hope that this will be about the science is ill-founded. Mr. Gore is raising 150 to 300 million, not to solve global warming, but to 'educate' the population about global warming. In order words, even though the science is (in Mr. Gore's mind) beyond dispute, he still feels the need to take the debate away from the scientists. Mr. Gore's millions will buy him the support of politicians who will accurately see this money as free support for those who support Gore's policy prescriptions. This money will not fund actual science, but will be used to shut off areas of inquiry.

4/04/2008 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

"Which means that the ipcc-related "science" and its "conclusions" - which, if you look at the actual ipcc process involved, are really no more than unproven direct restatements of AGW hypotheses - should be abandoned as a gigantic waste of money, at best." - J.Peden

If you'd like an interesting read, compare and contrast the entries for the IPCC and the NIPCC on wikipedia. The NIPCC is criticized for relying heavily on peer reviewed articles for its conclusions. The description of the IPCC says it does the same thing, but for some reason, no criticism for it.

4/04/2008 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Urban heat island measurements can be discussed here.

Climate Audit, a statistical discussion of facets of global warming is here.

4/04/2008 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 04/04/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

4/04/2008 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Pyrthroes:

"Every major global cultures perished in 1313 AD"? Odd. I must have missed the news on that one. China, Catholic Europe, the Aztec and Inca and the Arab world, which had just beaten back the Crusades, didn't seem to have been significantly affected. Maybe they were saved by their "off-planet terminals".

4/04/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger roderick said...

Pyrthroes:

You were doing fine until you got to the perishing of global cultures. Where did that come from?

4/04/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

"Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007 due to the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said. The World Meteorological Organisation's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer."

La Nina didn't start until August, 2007. The cold spell started January, 2007. Which was the last month of the previous El Nino.

The causes are still in dispute, but there is a strong correlation between sunspot activity and global temperature, even outside of minima periods.

4/04/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

RWE said:

"We have been observing the Sun scientifically for well over 100 years and on a somewhat more casual basis for centuries before that. We can now note the currents that bring the heat from deep within the Sun and use those observations to predict what the next sunspot cycle will be like – and hence what solar output will be."

Thirty years ago, I was working with some solar physicists and they claimed the solar models were no good and the Sun's behavior was almost impossible to model. For modeling the Earth's upper atmosphere, we use the 10.7 cm solar flux parameter (F10.7) and the geomagnetic daily index. If one plots the F10.7 parameter as a function of time, it looks like white noise within the envelope of the Sun's 11 year cycle. As far as I can tell, the 30 year old opinions of those solar physicists still seems to be valid, i.e. the Sun is too difficult to model. This is one of the main reasons why I'm a global warming skeptic, i.e. The Sun drives the Earth's climate but the Sun's behavior can not be predicted therefore the Earth's climate can not be predicted.

Along this line of the discussion, there are some very interesting movies of the Sun's photosphere that can be downloaded from the Web. These movies were produced by the SOHO and STEREO spacecraft. Just Google the spacecraft's names, follow the links and you'll find the movies. There are a couple movies showing the Sun's photosphere where it looks like the surface of an ocean in the middle of a terrible storm. The energy and chaotic violence of the Sun can be frightening to watch. We are so utterly insignificant when compared to the power of nature.

4/04/2008 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

We are so utterly insignificant when compared to the power of nature.

A nearby gamma ray burst might end the arguments altogether.

4/04/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I became a global warming skeptic from the vigorous attempts by GW advocates to completely dismiss the well-established variable output of the sun as a possible source of variations in the Earth's temperature.

It makes no sense, scientist or not, to completely separate from GW the only source of heat in the solar system.

4/04/2008 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger BigLeeH said...

It makes no sense, scientist or not, to completely separate from GW the only source of heat in the solar system.

Actually, there are a few more. Since GW concerns itself primarily with the temperature of the earth's surface it seems fair to consider geothermal heat as an external influence on the climate. Other heat sources are the decay of radioisotopes and the heat generated by incoming meteors. The heat produced by radioisotope decay is minuscule compared to solar heating, even when you include nuclear power and an occasional nuclear war. The heat produced by the impact of space rocks is also generally small although it has the potential to be quite significant if we get very, very unlucky.

4/04/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Patrick neid,
"deal with hundreds of millions of people who will be looking for reparations"

Affirmative action for global warming dupes!!

4/04/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

PeterBoston said:

"I became a global warming skeptic from the vigorous attempts by GW advocates to completely dismiss the well-established variable output of the sun as a possible source of variations in the Earth's temperature."

As I said before, I became a GW skeptic because I believed the climate is mainly driven by the Sun and other natural factors. I became convinced that GW advocates were pursuing hidden agendas when they started using GW concerns to promote old socialist goals and equate GW skepticism with Holocaust Denial. Also, I suspect the root of Bush Derangement Syndrome (which was well established BEFORE 9/11) was not because the President was a conservative or a Republican but rather because of his well justified opposition to the ill conceived Kyoto Protocol and his skepticism towards GW. The moonbats were calling the President "Bushitler" before 9/11. 9/11 merely confirmed a pre-established moonbat neurosis.

4/04/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger davod said...

"That only liberals are seeking massive political and social reordering to combat GW, by force if necessary, indicates that something else is going on.

sorry:

mccain came out yesterday stating we have to come together with the rest of the world to solve this terrible problem - dufus.

4/04/2008 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

McCain is saying what he has to. Notice that he has not proposed anything that would not fall into the generic pollution reduction or fuel conservation categories. Things that almost nobody would object to.

I used the word "massive" to suggest crushing taxes and industry killing proposals, both of which are the exclusive property of the liberals.

4/04/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

PeterBoston said:

"McCain is saying what he has to. Notice that he has not proposed anything that would not fall into the generic pollution reduction or fuel conservation categories. Things that almost nobody would object to."

I support John McCain for President.

Barack Hussein is a seductive demagogue and could easily win this election if McCain makes a serious political mistake.

Not recognizing the propaganda aspects of global warming would constitute a serious political mistake.

4/04/2008 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

After googling around a bit on how important is the sun to global warming and finding dozens of contradictory articles I don't think anyone really knows what the hell is going on.

4/04/2008 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Roderick,

Beginning in the early 14th Century (1313), global harvests failed for going on ten years. Meso-American cultures shrank miserably, fair prey to the Conquistadores by early 1500s. In China, Kublai Khan's Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty disintegrated in 1368, succeeded after long-lasting societal disruption by the Ming. Steppe nomads themselves swept southwest into India and the Near East, severing caravan routes, founding Mogul satrapies whose Muslim exemplars suppressed immemorial Hindu populations until the British Raj.

Deprivation, plague, endemic wars destroyed Europe's prosperous medieval civilization overnight: Six of every ten perished in this era, "when God slept." Barbara Tuchman gives an overview ("The Disastrous Fourteenth Century")... suffice to say, this horrific era set the stage for Renaissance recovery as global merchants sailed afield to import Cathay's pottery and silks and spices by sea-lanes. But cold increased through 1713, when wolves froze to death in German forests and wine turned ice at banquets in the Palace of Versailles.

Eight hundred years earlier in AD 513, similar crop failures expunged all vestiges of Rome's imperium, tipped Western worlds into a half-millenial Dark Age. Classic cultures proved vulnerable to foodstuff disruptions, but only in retrospect have historians perceived that history's Four Horsemen (Disease, Famine, Pestilence and War) do not inflict Apocalypse at whim.

Browse Jacques Barzun's magisterial "Dawn to Decadence" (1996) for an overview of 1450 - 1950 (Gutenberg to masscult TV). As Enlightenment and classic laissez faire recede, we face not just a Little but a New Ice Age. Pray that we're wrong-- in any case, Nature will go her way. Mounting evidence does not encourage optimism.

4/04/2008 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Eggplant: I don’t dispute anything you say, but it is a widely accepted fact that the Maunder Minimum of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s portion of the much longer “Little Ice Age” was identified by the reduced number of sunspots. The weather was noticeably colder during the Maunder Minimum, and it was the worst part of the Little Ice Age. Observing currents on the Sun leads to accurate predictions of sunspot activity a decade later. Aside from that it would seem to be pretty obvious that observed currents on the Sun that are significantly below that seen in the past indicates that less heat is being circulated up from below.

I am not sure that the primary effect of fewer sunspots and reduced solar wind and reduced magnetic field is due to more cosmic rays causing more cloud cover, but I could see that it might be a secondary effect.

A meteorologist I work with pointed out recently he found a 1940’s US Govt book on climitology that stated “The normal condition of the Earth is no ice caps.” Now, we well may have made some significant advances in climate theory in the last 60 years, but that also indicates that theories can change – and I can tell you that from having worked in the DC environment that “scientific” theories are as much influenced by politics as the reverse.

To me, I find it curious that we always move on from one crisis to another. The asbestos removal industry, having needlessly taken billions of dollars to fix what was mostly a non-problem, then tried to claim that fiberglas was just as dangerous. When the patents on Freon expired, it was discovered that we could not use it any more. Now that we have cleaned up auto and power plant emissions, CO2 is the next big problem.

Just as the Civil Rights Industry continues to invent new forms of discrimination, other industries invent other problems in order to keep their scam going.

4/04/2008 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I guess I've been a global warming skeptic ever since the spotted owl BS that supposedly passed for rigorous science confirmed for me the notion that the government could not be trusted to vet its own science in support of its own policy review to exploit its own policy.

The same thinking that formed Obama as an agent of change in many minds, has been working on fixing what "ails" our Representative form of government for a long time.

4/04/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger DaveK said...

Good Grief!

"La Nina cools the planet..."

That's like saying that the cart pushes the horses!

It is only a phenomenon of the global circulation, so how on earth can it cool the planet? But I guess the GW promoters have to hang their hat on something.

Just my $.02
DaveK

4/04/2008 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/04/2008 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Gee, Wretchard. If we can't discuss scientific theories here...

What are we going to DO with our BRAINS?????

Just reading the pathetic claptrap from the alleged scientists that were quoted, I see several fallacies they're trying to fob off as science.

The Question anyway is NOT whether there might be Global Warming. Our Climate is Variable, at every scale one cares to apply.

The questions that need to be addressed are:

(1) What is the long-term trend? Really.

(2) Is that long term trend actually anthropogenic --- caused primarily by human activities?

(3) If the answer to (2) is Yes, what are those activities, how do we quantify them, and what do we do to mitigate or eliminate them?

(4) Can be be certain that we're not creating even worse problems for ourselves by rushing remedies without determining what's going on first.

Any so-called scientist who claims to have eliminated cosmic rays as a significant factor in Global Climate Variability by a single study is a lying son of a bitch and I'll tell you why:

Our sun is a variable star. (Look up the 11-Year Sunspot Cycle, the Maunder Minimum and the "Little Ice Age.) In addition to its uninterrupted torrent of electromagnetic energy from extremely long microwaves to hard gamma rays, the sun spews out Titanic amounts of energy as highly-accelerated atoms of all sorts from hydrogen and helium up to Iron and even heavier atoms.

This is the so-called "Solar Wind" which we weren't able to study systematically until we had sent detectors into space starting only about 50 years ago. In addition to the regular "solar wind" there are VAST solar flares --- those are the things that screw up radio & tv broadcasts by and cause the Auroras Borealis and Australis, by over-stimulating the ionosphere.

Imagine the megajoules that are suddenly added to the Earth's energy budget when a solar flare spews a mass of accelerated ions in our direction massing Trillions of tons and moving at a substantial fraction of the speed of light, and the cloud slams into our atmosphere.

You've probably heard someone or other mention that "every time you ride a passenger jet from coast to coast, you're getting a dose of radiation about the same as a chest X-ray."

That's mostly from all those particles ejected from the Sun smashing apart in the upper atmosphere, and sending a cascade of daughter particles hurtling through your luggage and in-flight meal.

That energy is absorbed mostly by the atmosphere, and to a lesser extent by the soil, ocean, forests, and us creatures here below.

I can't help recalling that just a few years ago we were being told that an exchange of just a thousand nuclear weapons would likely end life-as-we-know-it, by causing a Global Ice Age, years without sun, without crops, and incidentally putting all the tanning product manufacturers out of business. As though the incineration of hundreds of cities full of creative and energetic humans weren't sufficient reason to try to avoid nuclear war...

The scientists advancing the Human-Caused Global Warming Hypothesis don't seem interested in comparing Global Warming theories to the "Nuclear Winter" hypothesis. The papers authored by the team including Carl Sagan assumed the detonation of some 5000 Megatons of weapons over perhaps a thousand cities worldwide, and assumed the Earth to be a smooth globe. (I guess they calculated the effects of burning cities by "Wild-Ass Guessing.")

By comparison, the energy content of even the typical "ho-hum" Solar Flare can dwarf all the Nuclear Weapons ever manufactured on Earth. Fortunately, the Earth is only rarely in a direct line-of-fire for the really huge flares. But a study of the energy absorbed by the Earth from Solar Flares would be a good investment.

The nearest "real-world experiment" to test the Nuclear Winter theory is credited to the noted Science fan, Saddam Hussein, who ignited some 526 oil wells in Kuwait in 1991. This produced a suitably dense particulate cloud that covered a significant chunk of geography, but actual observed effects were insufficient to prove or overturn the theory. Theorists & Skeptics, even.

Still, one has to admire the direct approach.

4/04/2008 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger davod said...

I would have thought volcanoe erruptions would provide a better experiment thatn the oil well fires.

4/05/2008 05:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

True Believer Suffers Death by Desiccation

4/05/2008 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Davod,

Your post has much wisdom.

But lighting off a bunch of volcanoes with currently available technologies is a serious challenge.

Godlike, even.

4/05/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

At least we know why crazy Al and his holier-than-thou followers are so dead set against us "denialists." They must have known the data that has been coming out lately was being gathered, and would nip their little new religion in the bud. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the Scientific Method understands that all theories are subject to experiment and observation. But not crazy Al's theories!

I find my friends who are most devoted to global warming, and most offended that I'm not, are the same guys who hate America for a hundred other reasons, too. You know, we oppress other cultures with McDonalds, we make everyone jealous because we have it too good, we use more than our "share" of energy, yadda.

These are the same people who believe the Bush Administration blamed 9/11 on Saddam, and they use Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld DENIALS to prove their point!

There's really no talking to them, this is not about science at all.

4/05/2008 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

RWE said...

"...it is a widely accepted fact that the Maunder Minimum of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s portion of the much longer “Little Ice Age” was identified by the reduced number of sunspots. The weather was noticeably colder during the Maunder Minimum, and it was the worst part of the Little Ice Age."

This is a very interesting subject that I know very little about. In particular, I'd like to better understand what goes on within the Sun's core. From what I've read, the “Little Ice Age” has been associated with solar activity. The point I was earlier making was no one can really predict solar activity at a detailed level, e.g. specific sun spot levels, beyond the well known 11 year cycle. There are various statisical models that people use but those models are largely empirical and not based upon complete understanding of the underlaying physical processes within the Sun (I emphasize that this is my ignorant understanding that maybe wrong). A zillion years ago, there was an obscure and unsung solar observation satellite (STP 78-1) with which I played a very minor role. What little I know about the Sun, I learned chatting with some scientists while working on that satellite. Modern solar observation satellites (SOHO and STEREO) are vastly more advanced than STP 78-1 and I urge people to look at the websites connected with those satellites.

4/05/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Eggplant, it is much more complex than just the solar output. We have the fact that the Earth's orbit varies in its distance from the sun (closer more solar energy, farther less). Then the tilt of Earth on its axis varies as well, changing the angle at which the sunlight strikes the surface and thus varies the energy input into the system. Then our own solar system is in orbit around the center of the galaxy and as was pointed out earlier in the postings we move in and out of huge dust "fields" which again affects the energy input into Earth's climate system. And then we have input from neighboring stars in terms of gamma radiation which has been proven (at least to me) to influence the formation of clouds, which in turn reflects out sunlight. All of these are subtle and long-term in nature, but for anyone to suggest that they, and they alone, understand what is truly going on with our climate is smoking some serious bud and drinking heavily from Al Gore's kool-aid punch bowl.

4/05/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Tarnsman said:

"We have the fact that the Earth's orbit varies in its distance from the sun (closer more solar energy, farther less). Then the tilt of Earth on its axis varies as well, changing the angle at which the sunlight strikes the surface and thus varies the energy input into the system."

I agree that these are important factors. My work sometimes involves orbital mechanics so this is an area in which I have some training. Orbital mechanics is actually one of the oldest analytic sciences and has a very rich jargon. The Earth's orbital plane around the Sun is called the "ecliptic". The angle of the Earth's axis of rotation to the ecliptic is called the "obliquity of the ecliptic". This angle actually oscillates around a mean value. This oscillation is called "nutation". The period of the Earth's nutation is 18.6 years. The Earth's nutation is actually a relic of an impact that happened almost four billion years ago that blew away most of the Earth's original atmosphere and formed our Moon. The orientation of the Earth's axis of rotation with respect to inertial space slowly changes due to precession (this is due to the Earth's oblateness and the Moon's gravitational attraction). A key reference point used in orbital mechanics is called the "First Point of Ares". The First Point of Ares drifts along the line of the ecliptic in the sky. This drift is called the "precession of the equinoxes". It takes 25,765 years for the First Point of Ares to complete one cycle through the ecliptic. Johannes Kepler discovered that the Earth's orbit is not a perfect circle but is instead an ellipse. The location in the Earth's orbit where the Sun is closest is called "perihelion". This year, perihelion occurred on 2 January but changes every year due to the precession of the equinoxes. Intuitively it would seem that the Earth should be hottest in the northern hemisphere when perihelion coincides with the northern summer solstice. For reasons that I do not understand this is not the case. However there is geological evidence showing rock stratification that is synchronized with the precession of the equinoxes. The cyclical phenomena related to the Earth's orbit are called "Milankovich cycles". There is a rich literature associated with Milankovich cycles that can be found with Google.

Sorry, I just looked back at this post and realized it is too long and technical (this is a subject that I enjoy and I lapsed into "pedantic mode").

4/05/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Eggplant,

That was actually a very interesting comment. Long and interesting is good.

4/05/2008 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Eggplant: I had forgotten about P78-1. I believe it was launched on an Atlas E/F booster, a modified former ICBM, from SLC-3 at VAFB not long after I joined the launch programs SPO. In fact, I believe I watched it go from a vantage point above Bluff Cove on Palos Verdes. I guess I could check the launch database I maintain for the USAF and confirm that. The first launch I worked there was in fact P78-2, which went on Delta 2914 from the Cape and experimented with charging effects of highly elliptical orbits.

I believe that P78-1 was the target of the first U.S. impact-type ASAT, launched from an F-15 using a SRAM rocket booster stage and what was originally designed as an anti-tank warhead. We actually had ASATs before that but that involved Thor LV-2D boosters equipped with nuclear warheads (when you care enough to send the very best….).

I read in a not very trustworthy book but which nonetheless provided some actual scientific information that our solar system oscillates through an arm of the galaxy over a period of many thousands of years, and when we are in the “dense” portion impacts from meteors and comets increase considerably. The book claimed that the last ice age lasted about 100K years and that it represented a very stable situation until “something” broke it – and that was likely the impact of a large meteor. They sort of implied that Mars got trashed at the same time, being habitable before that, and thus intelligences far beyond those on Earth looked across space at the warming planet and… Well, you get the idea.

One of the NOAA satellites I launched from VAFB carried the Earth Radiation Budget experiment, which was supposed to determine how much energy the planet re-radiated versus what it received. I never heard what they found out.

4/05/2008 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

RWE said:

"I had forgotten about P78-1. I believe it was launched on an Atlas E/F booster, a modified former ICBM, from SLC-3 at VAFB not long after I joined the launch programs SPO. In fact, I believe I watched it go from a vantage point above Bluff Cove on Palos Verdes... I believe that P78-1 was the target of the first U.S. impact-type ASAT, launched from an F-15 using a SRAM rocket booster stage and what was originally designed as an anti-tank warhead."

Yeah, they made STP 78-1 an ASAT target while it was still producing useful scientific data (a fine comment about the effort people put into making that satellite). I remember being pissed off about that. The old anger came back when they recently destroyed that malfunctioned low orbit satellite in another ASAT test.

4/05/2008 05:17:00 PM  

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